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Los Azules

About Los Azules

Located in San Juan, Argentina

Los Azules is an advanced-stage porphyry copper exploration project in the San Juan pro-mining province of Argentina. The project is located approximately 80 km west-northwest of the Calingasta town and 6 km east of Argentina's border with Chile, at 3,500 m elevation in the Andes Mountains.

Los Azules is a large high grade open pit copper project that contains significant further growth potential. According to the project's updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) completed in 2023, Los Azules is anticipated to produce an annual average of 322 million pounds of copper cathode over a 27-year Life of Mine (LOM), with competitive cost efficiencies and strong emphasis on reducing the environmental footprint and prioritizing environmental and social stewardship.

About Diagram About Diagram


On July 6, 2021 McEwen Mining announced the creation of the wholly-owned subsidiary, McEwen Copper Inc., which holds 100% interests in the Los Azules project in Argentina and in the Elder Creek exploration property in Nevada. Both assets are subject to a 1.25% net smelter return (NSR) royalty payable to McEwen Mining.

McEwen Copper started with 17.5 million shares outstanding held by McEwen Mining. A private placement financing at $10 per share was completed in August 2022, reaching an oversubscribed S$82 million and including investments of $40 million from Rob McEwen and $25 million from Nuton, a Rio Tinto venture. In February 2023, McEwen Copper had further investments at approx. $19 per share, of $30 million by Nuton and $155 million by Stellantis, world’s 4th largest automaker.

McEwen Copper entered a collaboration agreement with Nuton to evaluate the potential application of heap leaching at Los Azules, involving the testing of Nuton® Technologies for compatibility with Los Azules copper mineralization. Heap leaching offers numerous promising economic and environmental benefits over the conventional milling methods, which include reduced water and energy consumption, elimination of large tailings storage facilities or dams, and typically lower capital and operational costs.

Together with Stellantis, McEwen Copper have committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2038. They have also entered a Copper Cathodes and Concentrates Purchase Rights Agreement (CCCPRA) under which Stellantis and its affiliates have the option to purchase a portion of the copper cathodes or concentrates produced from Los Azules, proportionate to their equity ownership percentage in McEwen Copper.

In 2022 we have resolved the critical issue of road access to Los Azules by the development of a lower altitude access road that provides us with the opportunity for year-round work at the site. The diagram below illustrates the important elevation difference between our exploration road (shown in blue) that allows 5 to 6-month access to site and our new access road (shown in orange) that, in combination, will provide 12-month access. Having two roads into Los Azules represents an important development for the project, making it safer, less expensive and faster to advance and complete our fieldwork.

The first season of the 2022 surface drilling at Los Azules took place from January to late May, with 54 holes drilled using 11 rigs, for a total of 13,500 meters. The second drilling season, from October 2022 to June 2023, completed 138 holes using 15 drill rigs, for a total of 39,900 meters, making it the largest drilling campaign in the history of Los Azules and one of the largest in Argentina. The Los Azules drill hole database now totals 126,000 meters.

Primary objectives of the drilling program include:

  • Improving the confidence in the resource by converting Inferred mineral resources to the Indicated category
  • Accelerating project advancement with metallurgical, hydrological and geotechnical drilling and
  • Testing the limits of the depth extension of the higher-grade mineralization.

Results from the recent drilling programs can be seen in our Los Azules progress reports press releases from 2022, dated May 4, June 23 and August 4, and from 2023, dated January 26, March 6, April 5, May 5 and July 12.

Future drilling will continue to evaluate the potential to expand the deposit at depth. While the median depth of drill holes within the Los Azules resource database is 175 m (575 ft), it is not uncommon for porphyry copper mineralization to extend well beyond 1,000 m (3,280 ft) of depth. Numerous drill holes at Los Azules have encountered strong copper grades below the 2023 PEA pit bottom, with all three holes drilled to a depth of over one kilometer ending in copper mineralization.

McEwen Copper has built an experienced management team that facilitated the successful completion of the updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for Los Azules in Q2 2023 and continue to commit to growth and advancement as they move forward with a Feasibility Study in 2024 and plans for an initial public listing.

For further information on McEwen Copper, the latest company presentation can be accessed here.

Los Azules

1,235 Million Tonnes
Estimates Silver

Estimates Silver

Estimates Gold


Los Azules PEA

In June 2023 McEwen Mining announced the results of an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for Los Azules. The report is dated May 31, 2023, with effective date May 9, 2023 (PDF 25MB).

Using the price assumptions of $3.75 per pound of copper, the Los Azules project generates a $2.7 billion (B) After-Tax Net Present Value (NPV) (discounted at 8%) and 21.2% After-Tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR), demonstrating to be a robust, high margin, rapid payback, and long life open pit mine operation.

Estimate of Mineral Resources for Los Azules

The 2023 PEA for Los Azules includes an updated resource estimate, incorporating the results of the drilling programs with cutoff date December 31st, 2022. The assay database includes 56,528 meters of assay interval data from 162 drillholes. An additional 22,252 meters of mostly infill drilling from 49 holes, completed to June 2023, were not included in the resource estimate.

The extent of mineralization along strike exceeds 4 km and the distance across strike is approximately 2.2 km. The deposit is open at depth and to the North. The copper resource contains 10.9 B lbs. Cu in the Indicated category (grade 0.40%) and 26.7 B lbs. Cu in the Inferred category (grade 0.31%).


$3.00 / lb Copper

    The 2023 PEA for Los Azules unveils a bright future for the project, exhibiting robust project economics, a high margin, rapid payback, and long life open-pit mine operation.

  • $2.7 billion After-Tax NPV (8% discount rate) and 21.2 % After-Tax IRR;
  • 3.2 year payback and 27 years Life of Mine (LOM);
  • 401 million lb average annual copper production for first 5 years.
  • $1.07/lb Cu average C1 cash cost, $1.64/lb Cu all-in sustaining cost over LOM.

2023 PEA VS 2017 PEA

The base case development strategy selected in the 2023 PEA is distinctly different from that presented in the prior 2017 PEA, by replacing a mine with a conventional mill and flotation concentrator with a heap leach project using solvent extraction-electrowinning to produce copper cathodes.

Principal reasons for the change in implementation strategy to leach in the 2023 PEA:

  • Environmental Footprint - reduction of fresh water and electricity consumption and of GHC emissions;
  • Reduced Permitting Risk - the Project uses heap leach technology, which is in operation in San Juan. This also eliminates tailings and tailings dams, conserves water resources, optimizing the permitting process;
  • Production of Cathodes - the leach process produces LME Grade A copper cathodes, which can be directly used in industry, including within Argentina reducing export taxes. This eliminates reliance on 3rd party foreign smelters for processing concentrates. It also eliminates significant GHG emissions associated with transportation, and pollution associated with smelting.
  • Environmental Footprint Reductions

      Reduced by:
    Fresh water consumption ~75%
    Electricity consumption ~75%
    GHG emissions ~57%